Fairer decisions, better health for all: Health equity and cost-effectiveness analysis

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper

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Publication details

DatePublished - Sep 2016
PublisherCentre for Health Economics, University of York
Number of pages43
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameCHE Research Paper
PublisherCentre for Health Economics, University of York
No.135

Abstract

This report provides a non-technical introduction to practical methods for using cost-effectiveness analysis to address health equity concerns, with applications to low-, middle- and high-income countries. These methods can provide information about the likely impacts of alternative health policy decisions on inequalities in health, financial risk protection and other health-related outcomes that may be considered unfair, allowing for the distribution of costs as well as benefits. They can also provide information about the trade-offs that sometimes arise between improving total health and reducing health inequalities of different kinds. We distinguish three general ways of using cost-effectiveness analysis to address health equity concerns: (1) equity impact analysis, which quantifies the distribution of costs and effects across a population by equity-relevant variables such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, location, gender, age and severity of illness; (2) equity constraint analysis, which counts the cost of choosing fairer but less cost-effective options; and (3) equity weighting analysis, which uses equity weights or parameters to explore how much concern for equity is required to choose fairer but less cost-effective options. We hope this report will raise awareness of the practical tools of cost-effectiveness analysis that are now available to help give health care and public health policy makers a better understanding of who gains and who loses from their priority setting decisions.

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